Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett hailed the appropriation of $300 million by the United States Congress for projects to relieve traffic congestion in Bethesda and other communities with BRAC (Defense Base Closure and Realignment)-impacted military hospitals.
“We owe a great debt to our Congressional delegation for their very hard work and leadership in securing these urgently needed BRAC funds,” said Leggett. “Congressman Chris Van Hollen and Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin took the lead and worked hand-in-hand to move this funding through both houses of Congress. I also want to commend Bethesda’s good friends, Congressman Bill Young of Florida, the late Congressman John Murtha of Pennsylvania, and Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, whose selfless devotion to our men and women in uniform is well known, particularly at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval hospitals. It may take awhile, but the projects that will go forward with this additional funding will truly make a difference in alleviating traffic gridlock in Bethesda – ensuring that patients, doctors and families visiting our wounded warriors can receive the service they deserve.”
Under BRAC, the Walter Reed Army Medical Center will close its Northwest Washington campus on September 15 and consolidate in Bethesda, with the National Naval Medical Center becoming the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Personnel working at the Bethesda campus will increase from 8,000 to 10,500 – almost a 33 percent increase – and visits to the hospital campus will double from 500,000 to one million per year. All BRAC-related construction on the Navy campus has been fully funded, but until now the federal government had not properly funded the cost of adapting Bethesda’s roads, transit network or pedestrian facilities to accommodate this dramatic growth.
The County and State of Maryland have collaborated on a number of improvements that have been completed or are underway. The new funding will be used for essential upgrades to major intersections, improvements to vehicle and pedestrian mobility and enhanced access to the Medical Center Metro station.
With the return of warmer weather, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s Division of Highway Services (DHS) has resumed repairs to sidewalks and curbs. Two projects under the County’s Renew Montgomery Program began in April and include Wheaton Woods, Wheaton and Connecticut Avenue Estates, Rockville. Renew Montgomery is a comprehensive program which coordinates Department Transportation services to improve the infrastructure of older neighborhoods.
The work involves removing and replacing damaged sidewalks and ensuring that curb ramps are accessible to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, removal and replacement of damaged and misaligned curbs and restoration of disturbed areas with soil, grass seed and straw mulch. While DHS is in the neighborhood, residents can take advantage of the competitive price offered by the County to replace driveway aprons (the portion of the driveway that is within the public right-of-way) and lead walks (the sidewalk from the edge of the road to a homeowner’s property line).
Following a request from residents, the Montgomery County Department of Transportation’s Division of Transportation Engineering (DTE) has begun a project on Henderson Avenue in Wheaton to improve drainage and roadway conditions. The project extends from east of Georgia Avenue to Wheaton Regional Park (about one-half mile). DTE will install curbs and gutters, inlets, storm drain pipes and two stormwater treatment facilities, and repave the road. When the project is complete, Henderson Avenue will be 25-feet wide, with one lane of on-street parking and two lanes of through traffic.
One lane of traffic will remain open at all times throughout construction, which is expected to take about 10 months.
Montgomery County’s Ride On bus system collected more than 6,000 pounds of food and other items during its 24th annual “Give and Ride” food drive that took place the week of April 10. Bus passengers received free rides by donating canned or nonperishable food, disposable diapers, formula, baby or toddler food, and juice.
All food donations were sent to the Manna Food Center, a Gaithersburg-based non-profit organization that distributes food to the County’s neediest residents. Manna requested that Ride On hold its annual food collection drive in the spring to better meet community food distribution needs. Manna distributes about 70 pounds of fresh and nonperishable food to more than 3,300 families every month. Eligible clients in need of emergency food assistance may receive food every 30 days.
For bus stop locations or bus schedules, call the County’s Transit Information Center at 240-777-7433, or TTY number 240-773-3556. Route and timetable information is also available on Ride On’s web site at montgomerycountymd.gov/rideon. SmarTrip® and passes can be purchased online.
The Montgomery County Council held a public hearing on April 26 on proposed transportation fees, charges and fares. These include reducing the discount on Ride On’s monthly pass, increasing long term parking rates in Silver Spring and Bethesda by 10 cents an hour, adding parking charges on Saturday for Bethesda’s lots and garages, and assessing fees for developers in the Greater Shady Grove Transportation Management District.
The Council will accept written comments for 30 days following the hearing. For more information call the Council at 240-777-7803, or visit the Council’s website.
Montgomery County will join communities nationwide in celebrating Bike to Work Day on May 20. This annual celebration encourages bicycle commuting, which provides exercise benefits and is also an effective way to improve air quality, reduce traffic congestion and noise, and conserve energy. For most trips of less than five miles, commuting by bicycle may take about the same amount of time as traditional transportation options. For longer trips, riders can combine Ride On, which has bike racks on the front of all buses, with bicycle commuting.
This year, the County will hold events at 10 sites:
Bethesda-National Institutes of Health-Building One
Bethesda-National Institutes of Health-Executive Blvd
Bethesda-National Naval Medical Center
North Bethesda-White Flint Mall
Rock Springs Business Park
Rockville-Rockville Town Center
Rockville-Falls Grove Transportation Center
Silver Spring-One Discovery Place
Silver Spring-Food and Drug Administration-White Oak
Montgomery County provides and promotes a comprehensive and balanced transportation program that includes a wide variety of transit, ridesharing, bicycling, pedestrian and teleworking options for residents, businesses, employees and visitors. These alternative modes of transportation are effective and efficient commuting solutions, reducing pollution and transportation costs, helping address climate change concerns, and ensuring the economic and environmental vitality of communities.
For more information about the pit stops, or to be eligible for prizes, register for Bike to Work Day online.
For more information about commuting options in the County, contact Commuter Services or call 240-773-2989. Or, stop in at one of the County’s TRiPS Commuter Stores in downtown Silver Spring, 8413 Ramsey Avenue, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., or Friendship Heights, 17 Wisconsin Circle, Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., both of which are near the Metrorail stations.
The Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) is now operating express bus service along the first phase of the Intercounty Connector (ICC), also known as MD200. Two bus routes link Gaithersburg to job and transportation centers at Fort Meade and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport.
ICC Bus Route 201 provides service between the Gaithersburg Park and Ride lot, located at I-270 and MD 124 in Montgomery County, and BWI Marshall Airport. The bus provides hourly service to seven daily stops. Gaithersburg service begins at 4 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m. BWI Marshall return service runs from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m.
ICC Bus Route 202 serves employees working at NSA and Fort Meade Monday through Friday. The bus makes six stops between the Gaithersburg Park and Ride Lot and Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County. Three morning buses leave Gaithersburg at 5:15, 6:15 and 7:15 a.m. Afternoon routes leave Fort Meade at noon, 3, 4 and 5 p.m.
Detailed information on routes, times and fares can be found at the ICC website. Or, also call the MTA Transit Information Center Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. at 410-539-5000.
The following construction is related to the Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC) associated with the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. It may impact traffic in the vicinity of the Center.
Rehabilitation of the bridge on Cedar Lane over Rock Creek is ongoing. In mid-April, traffic patterns switched to allow work along the southbound side of Cedar Lane. Drivers are urged to exercise caution and watch for signs to help navigate through the work zone.